Bernard Butler talks new band Trans in rare guitar interview

In a recording career spanning 23 years, Bernard Butler has gone from guitar whiz-kid in Suede to award-winning producer with the likes of Duffy, The Libertines, the late Bert Jansch and many more.

In a rare guitar interview, the most exciting player of the Britpop generation recently sat down with Guitarist magazine and talked through the instruments with which he made his name. Butler also explains how a football injury helped him fall in love with the instrument all over again and form a new band into the bargain.

Transcendental Improvisation

"I'm doing something different and feeling confident onstage."

Trans is Butler's brand new band with fellow singer/guitarist Jackie McKeown formerly of The Yummy Fur and now The 1990s. Butler says, "I produced their albums - they did a song called Situation which I just loved, and I didn't even mind not playing guitar on that because Jackie was clearly so good. We kept in touch and joked: 'let's form a band, come to the studio on Monday to make an album!' A stupid idea, but we got together.

"I decided I was not going to play my Gibson ES-355 through an AC30 with loads of reverb, as maybe expected. I was going to play my Strat straight into my Lazy J amp. That's it.

"It's great to play with another guitarist, something I've rarely had the chance to do. Jackie's panned one side, I'm the other. So you can hear what we're doing in the room, and it's pretty much all improvised playing. If one drops out of an idea, the other can pick it up or do something new.

"Some writers said I sounded like Television (Tom Verlaine/Richard Lloyd) when I was in Suede, even though I'd never even heard a Television record. But after time, it's an interesting comparison. Trans has two intertwining guitars and it did strike me: why the hell has no-one ever tried to do that again?

"The idea for Trans is to do EPs, no singles, no albums. Partly because of the way the industry now works, but also because it's a fun way to create. A couple of days, and we can have a new EP. I'm doing something different and feeling confident onstage. It's totally guitaristic, and exciting.

"For all the people saying I need to get out there playing live guitar again? Trans is it. Tell us what you think."

Visit Rough Trade for more on Trans. For much more from Bernard Butler, including an in-depth look at the highlights of his incredible guitar collection, buy Guitarist magazine issue 379, on sale in print and digital forms on 7 March 2014.

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